5 Helpful Tips When FISHING in Puerto Vallarta

Does Puerto Vallarta Have Good Fishing?

Fishing in Puerto Vallarta is an incredible location for many sport fishing enthusiasts and those looking to simply enjoy a fishing charter for fun. It’s a big reason why many people visit here every year believe it or not! Thanks to Vallarta’s location on Mexico’s Pacific coast and calmer waters due to the bay, the abundance of fish species found in its warm waters is plentiful. Let’s dive into some specifics about what it’s like fishing in Puerto Vallarta, including the best times to fish, tips on making the most out of your fishing trip, what species you may see/catch, and what many of these fish are best used for if you’ve caught any of them.

Best Months to Fish in Puerto Vallarta

The best time for fishing in Puerto Vallarta is from November to June, which is considered the high season. During this period, the water is warmer and calmer, and there are more fish in the area. However, fishing can still be good throughout the year, with different species being available during different seasons.

Various other species become more abundant in the off months from July-October, but this isnt a time when most tourists and fishing enthusiasts are in the area anyways, so the timing of Vallarta’s fishing season works out perfectly! But let’s talk about the most common species you’ll find here in the bay when fishing in Puerto Vallarta. 

Some of the most popular fish species that can be caught in the waters around Puerto Vallarta include marlin, yellowfin tuna, dorado (mahi-mahi), roosterfish, and snapper, and even pacific bluefin tuna – although that’s rare. Below we’ll show you a chart that gives you a great visual of each fish and its corresponding months theyre plentiful, and then we can talk about each one in some detail.

fishing in puerto vallarta chart
Vallarta’s Common Species Fishing Chart



These are the ultimate trophy fish! When fishing in Puerto Vallarta, it’s certainly possible to find one of these, but likely not within the bay. For this catch, you’ll need to head outside of the bay into deeper open ocean. Their habitat is mostly in open ocean, however they tend to stay closer to the surface. Sailfish are large, with the ability to grow up to 11 feet (3.4 meters) in length and weigh up to 220 pounds (100 kilograms). So if one of these guys bites onto your line, be prepared for a long battle to the finish line. sailfish in puerto vallarta

They feed on large schools of fish such as sardines and mackerel, while also regularly feasting on squid. They’re also known to be solitary hunters and rarely travel in packs, so if you see more than one – consider yourself lucky! However the most interesting characteristic about sailfish has to be their insane speed. Clocking in at speeds of up to 68 miles per hour (110 kilometers per hour), this fish is faster than a cheetah running at full speed by a whole 6.2 mph (10 km/h).

sailfish in puerto vallarta

Marlin – Blue, Black, and Striped

Whats even faster than a sailfish? A marlin. Unbelievably quick, these fish can swim at speeds ranging from 50 to 82 miles per hour (80 to 132 kilometers per hour). Thats staggering, which means catching them can be quite the challenge. Along with sailfish, black marlin fall under the umbrella of “trophy fish” for how difficult they are to catch. It takes skill, knowledge of the sea, and some serious determination to reel a marlin in.

Fish like marlin take not only skill from the angler (fisherman), but also the captain to direct the boat properly during the fight, and the deckhands/others on board. This battle can take anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours of pulling and pulling until that fish is finally in the boat. A true adrenaline rush and what every angler strives to experience when fishing in Puerto Vallarta. 

black marlin puerto vallarta
Black marlin regularly reach up to 1,000 pounds (450 kilos


Roosterfish: Recognizable by its distinctive comb-like dorsal fin, roosterfish is a thrilling challenge for sports fishermen. Catch and release is encouraged for these magnificent creatures, as they are not typically consumed. What makes these fish easy to catch compared to others on this list is their love for shallow habitats. Normally found near the surface around rocky areas, making it excellent hunting ground when fishing in Puerto Vallarta. Sport fisherman love the challenge of reeling in a roosterfish due to their tenacity and acrobatic displays. 



Wahoo is the named after the sound most people make when they catch one of these fish. No I’m kidding thats a bad dad joke, but what is true is this magnificent fish is abundant during high season – making it a likely catch if you’re spending time on the water during those winter months. Not unlike the other fish mentioned above, this is another super fast fish, clocking in at speeds of 60 mph (97 kmh) at their top speeds.

They’re known for their voracious hunting style when killing their prey such as smaller fish and squid, due to their large sharp teeth. Sizes range from 20 pounds to a whopping 100 pounds.  This is a wonderful fish for sushi and sashimi because of their hard texture and mild flavor. 

wahoo fish in Puerto Vallarta
Wahoo’s are a lesser known species than tuna or mahi-mahi, but an absolutely gorgeous fish. Just look at that!


Red Snapper

A prized catch in the bay, red snapper is known for its sweet, mild-flavored flesh. Anglers often target them using bottom fishing techniques. One of the best parts of fishing in Puerto Vallarta is red snapper are one of the few fish that remain abundant all year round.  With consistent month over month healthy levels of this species. roaming the warm waters of Banderas Bay.  

These fish can surprisingly live up to 50 years, and are found in warm waters at depths of 30-200 feet roaming reefs and rocky bottoms. The exciting part of a red snapper is their variation in size because they vary so much. Normally you’ll see an average snapper hovering anywhere between 2-30 pounds, with some caught on rare occasion as large as 30-40 pounds (13-18 kg’s). Red snapper is a popular fish in most restaurants worldwide, and can be prepared in numerous ways, including baking, grilling, or frying – making it an easy fish to handle with its diverse cooking options. 

red snapper puerto vallarta
Red snapper near the surface


Yellowfin Tuna 

Among the myriad of species in the ocean, few command as much attention and respect as the tuna. They come in several shapes and sizes like skipjack and albacore, but the dominant behemoths are undoubtedly the yellowfin and of course the bluefin species. Its more common to find yellowfin and skipjack tuna when fishing in Puerto Vallarta, but a bluefin tuna is possible also. However they’re more commonly found in the Atlantic. Yellowfin tuna reach up to 440 pounds, making them another fun fish to battle with if you have one caught on your line.

When it comes to cooking, Yellowfin tuna is highly prized for its culinary qualities. Its meat is firm, pink to reddish in color, and has a mild, nutty flavor. It is a popular choice for sushi lovers who love their fresh sashimi, but it’s also perfect for  grilling/searing. Yellowfin tuna steaks are a common menu item in seafood restaurants worldwide. If you do happen to catch a bluefin while fishing in Puerto Vallarta though, lease take a picture for all of us!

yellowfin and bluefin tuna
The size, strength, and beauty of tuna is remarkable


Mahi-mahi (dorado)

The most notable fish found in the Bay of Banderas when fishing in Puerto Vallarta is undoubtedly the Mahi-mahi. With its incredible vibrant green and yellow color, along with that fresh taste – it really makes for the perfect flavor for ceviche’s on board the boat, or when you reach land on the BBQ! Not to mention the thrill of engaging with one of these strong beasts in the water. It’s an experience you’re lucky to have, because not everyone has reeled in one of these beauties before. That feeling of satisfaction when you finally get it into the boat too…you’ll be hooked!

Facts about mahi-mahi you may find interesting:

  1. The name “Mahi-Mahi” means “strong-strong” in Hawaiian, which refers to their speed and strength.

  2. Mahi-Mahi are typically found in open ocean waters and around floating debris, such as logs or seaweed mats, where they feed on small fish and squid.

  3. They are fast-growing fish and can reach up to 6 feet in length and weigh up to 80 pounds.

  4. Mahi-Mahi are known to migrate long distances, with some individuals traveling over 40 (64 kilometres) miles in a single day. Incredible. 

  5. Not only can they travel ridiculous distances, they are fast! We’re talking 50 mph (80 km/h) FAST! 


Hooked on a line, this mahi-mahi jumps from the water


5 Helpful Tips for Fishing In Puerto Vallarta

To increase your chances of catching fish in Puerto Vallarta, it is important to use the right equipment and techniques. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Hire a Local Fishing Guide: The best way to catch anything while fishing in Puerto Vallarta is to hire a local fishing guide who knows the area and can take you to the best spots. They also provide you with the right equipment and bait which is a huge time saver.

  • Use Live Bait: Live bait is more effective than lures for catching fish in Puerto Vallarta. Some of the most popular live baits include sardines, ballyhoo, and mullet.

  • Try Different Depths: Different fish species can be found at different depths, so it is important to try fishing at different depths to see where the fish are biting. A fish like Dorado (mahi-mahi) for example is lured by shiny objects and commotion on the surface. Many people use something as simple as tinfoil on their hooks to attract them. 

  • Be Patient: Fishing requires patience, so be prepared to spend some time on the water before you catch anything. Enjoy the beautiful scenery and keep trying different techniques until you find what works.

  • Be on the water either before sunrise at 5am, or be ready for sunset. These are generally the best times when fish are feeding, and you can snag one (or more). 


Why is a Fishing Boat and Skilled Crew Important?

Lastly, the type of boat used for fishing is an important consideration. While it is technically possible to fish from any boat, we highly recommend using a fishing-specific charter boat for the best experience. These boats are specifically designed for fishing and are therefore equipped with more open space to maneuver when a large fish is caught on the line. They also have larger built in freezers and tools aboard for gutting fish quickly if necessary. 

In addition, the crews aboard our fishing specific boats are top-notch, and possess a wealth of knowledge regarding the best strategies to use for successful fishing. These captains and deckhands have been fishing in Puerto Vallarta for years, and in some cases decades – so they know all the best kept secret spots and how to catch the big ones if that’s what you’re after.

For more information about fishing in Puerto Vallarta, talk with us at Palmara Charters to book your vessel and secure your date on the water today!

One of our luxury fishing boats. Perfect for a large group fishing in Puerto Vallarta

One Response

  1. Fishing in Vallarta was actually crazy. Ive been fishing a few times on vacation on the mayan side – but the absolute battle we had today with three of the mahi-mahi’s we caught was incredible! Something I’ll never forget. My mates and I will be back for round two next winter!

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